Last year, I had a rough start to the season because while I had a lot of intensity, I didn't get my endurance work. Track races are extremely hard, but also very short. Typically, 12 mins or less. So, this year I look hard at my schedule. I was not willing to give up strength training, because that has effects well beyond that of the bike. So, I just added cycling training to the same days I do strength training. I had to say, I am much better for it. Last year, I would be dragging myself from FITS...and this year, so far, I'm full of energy.

Two weeks ago, I took the bike cam and brought it around with me on my day. I took some video of the ride outside in the cold (-10C), at the Real Deal Performance studio, and at the FITS Toronto center. Check out the video below.

Motivation is...

Suiting up after work after watching the temperature drop all afternoon from -6C to -10C with windchills below -14C.

Treking down to the University of Toronto by bike to be tested on a 5 min critical power test, a test designed to leave you completely wiped.

Suiting back up again and heading out, in the dark, into the night, by bike into the cold for the ride home.

Realizing that it's gotting colder as I ride.

Facing a 20-30km wind that is in my face the entire ride.

Riding my fixed gear bike and suffering with a cadence that never makes it over 80RPM because of the wind and a speed that never makes it to 28km/h.

Realizing as you cross the Bloor Viaduct, that there is still 30-40 mins to ride.

Riding up Leslie St. in full out TT mode and struggling to get up the hills that normally are easy.

Hitting Leslie and Sheppard and realizing that you are about to bonk as you stare at the last remaining "hill" on the ride.

Yet, still, somehow, out of nowhere managing to find the energy to get out of the saddle and give every last remaining bit left to sprint up the "climb" because, dammit, the only thing you wanted more than the pain in the legs is to get inside, in the warm house, and dammit OUT OF THE COLD.

We will stay in rented houses in Limoux and Bouriege. The house in Limoux can sleep seven in individual rooms and the house in Bouriege can sleep five individuals (or three couples). The accomodations have private rooms, but you will share the common areas such as the livingroom, kitchen, and bathrooms.

The first house is 21 rue des Oules, Limoux and is designed with cyclists in mind. It has 7 rooms each with a Ikea style single bed, desk, lamp. One room has an Ikea style double bed which will go to the first person booking into this house. There are two bathooms which we share. It has a full kitchen with two fridges.  Bikes hang in the kitchen on the wall. If you like the idea is being at the town square in the afternoons, you will want to stay here. The town square is just outside its door. This house is best suited for those that like to be out in the town square soaking up the atmosphere.

The house in Bouriege isn't specifically for cyclists, but it has lots of common space, a heated pool, a huge commercial style kitchen, a BBQ's, patio above the pool, and patio across the street. So, there is space to work on your tan after a ride or just spend some alone time. Each of the rooms has a large double bed. There are two large bathrooms. If you have been to Limoux before, I suggest staying here. The beds are bigger and there is more space. However, while there is a cafe in town, (literally beside the house), it's 12km outside of Limoux. So, you will a ride to/from town in the tour's van or you can hop on your bike into town. This house is best suited to those who need a little down time after a ride or prefer better accomodation.

Those staying in Limoux will be able to use the pool at the house in Bouriege.
All houses have a large livingrooms with TV and free WIFI. The house in Bouriege has several common areas. The tour is always available to watch in the afternoon on TV or a local cafe/pub in Limoux. Everything in Limoux is in walking distance. There is a Walmart style store a 30min walk/10min ride/short drive on the edge of Limoux. Food is either bought locally and made in the kitchen, or a short walk to places in the town square for things like fine french food to American style fries. If you want to hang out in a place where no one speaks French, the local Irish Pub has Guinness on tap.
In Bouriege, there is a small cafe that can make small meals, coffee, etc.. However, anything else requires a trip to Limoux.
Can I bring my spouse/significant other? If you would bring them on your usual club ride, and they keep up with you, then please do bring them. You must stay in the Bouriege house because this house can accomodate couples and the house in Limoux only has single beds. 

Rather than spend time typing a blog, I decided to vlog. While this is somewhat of an experiment, the one take grabbed most of what I wanted to say.

The one thing I learned on Monday was one needs to train using efforts of unknown durations in order to test the "mental cliff" - that point in an all out effort where you just want to quit, but have to keep going. I think we spend too much time working out to a clock or racing to the lap counter and need to train more with all out efforts with unknown distance.

[Warning: I failed spelling in grade school]

When heading out to London, ON on Friday night, I got a bit nervous. Odd, considering I've done that drive now 1-3 times per week for the last four years. I set track provincials this year as my only "A" race. Everything else I did this year was more about skills than winning. I like racing the track and winning in London would be something special. Since I never do well under pressure, so told myself racing this weekend was all about training. It didn't matter what the outcome was. I mean, I've been racing the track in International Velodrome at Bloomer Park in Michigan for most of August and two weeks ago spend the day racing the track in Cleveland, OH. So, unlike last year when I came to track provincials with no experience at track time trials and hadn't riden a track bike in months, I did a few TT events this year and raced many points and scratch races. I even raced the A group at Bloomer Park and the CAT1/2/3 (A group) races in Cleveland with some good results. But, the Forest City Velodrome always adds a new element to track racing because the 138m track has really tight corners.

So, while I was able to calm myself down, racing on Friday didn't happen for me. I failed to place in the 500m event and I did some stupid things, for example, like hammer on the front of the pack, chase guys down, etc. in the 70 lap points race. Further, I actually was the very first guy off on the 500m event for the weekend: something I hope never happens again. So, I left Friday evening with no medals and no podiums.

Today, the Cleveland Velodrome ran two events: TT and Mass Start. The Time Trial events were the 200m flying lap, 1K TT, 3K Pursuit, and the 4K TT (ran as a persuit). Other events were offered such as Team Sprint and Team Pursuit for the local teams that were in attendance. This is my first actually racing the Cleveland Velodrome because the last time I came up, it rained (torential downpour) after I got in 10 laps of a warmup. The Clevelend track is a 160M steal structure wood panel track that is very smooth to ride on.

I can still recall seeing a old photo of a old Forest City Velodrome member riding at the Masters Track World Championships. Since I started at the Forest City Velodrome, I've taking to liking track racing more than the road. I have a goal to compete and win in the Provincial Track Championships this year, race competitively at the Track Nationals next year, and place at Nationals the year following. I figure when I can compete at Nationals and place or do well, I can seriously consider booking the trip to Masters Track Worlds and representing Canada. In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do.

This year I decided to keep up with Wednesday training at the Forest City Velodrome and that has helped. I kind of fell into going to the International Velodrome at Bloomer Park. One of the FCV regulars, I know, makes trips out there, and urged me to go with him. When it couldn't make it, I decided to go on my own and I've been there some five times this summer. I have also been to the track in Cleveland on my own. So, magically, this summer I have had a fair amount of track racing and riding time. This weekend two major events at these two tracks happened to line up perfectly.

With Track Provincials coming up at the end of the month, I decided to force myself to like riding a fixed gear bike. While riding a fixie on the track is relatively easy, it's not so on the road - at least for me. There are things called "hills" to deal with. Bike Couriers ride these daily and are far better at it than me. With the Fixed gear bike, unlike a regular bike with gears, there is only one gear - in this case, 46x16 or 78 gear inches. That means, I'm spinning at about 90RPM at 32km/h.

BIKE2013-09-10 07.42.24Hills means getting out of the saddle unless I don't feel like it and just gring away up to the top. For the most part, I'm climbing out of the saddle on this machine in order to use my body weight to turn the pedals around. It saves the knees.

Cornering has new meaning as well. Most roadies stop pedalling through corners unless they are racing. On a fixed gear bike, stopping pedalling is not an option. Stopping pedalling usually means one gets a very violent reminder that you can't. When I first got this machine, a few times I've almost been thrown from it.

So, this month in order to build strength and skill riding a fixed gear, I'm commited to riding my Urbane Cyclist special (and the fenders make it great for the rain). I hope that improves bike handling on the track where one need only ride in straight lines.

It's been a while since I last posted something. I've been meaning to do so for some time, but I have to admit: I've been racing and riding a lot. I mean a lot. I last posted on July 1 saying that "racing season is over". However, oddly enough, for me it was just getting started into full swing. I feel this season was the best season of racing yet, even through I have one one win to my name. I have as many kilometers added to my car as added to my bike. Most of my races have been middle or back of the pack finishes, although I did get 8th place (because I can't sprint) in the Tour di Italia crit in Windsor last weekend. Also, two weeks ago I finished first in the Miss and Out at the track at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, MI. Racing the AA group at Bloomer Park has resulted in a lot of Podium finishes (which felt good).

Attacking the pack in WindsorI've been at almost every single Midweek Tuesday Crit. I've been to race training at the Forest City Velodrome almost every Wednesday this summer. I've been racing either in the Larkenville Challenge in Buffalo, NY or the Real Deal Time Trial on Thursday nights. I've raced the D'Ornellas Club championship stage race. I've been to the International Velodrome at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, MI some five times now even though it's 4.5 hrs away. I raced in Windsor at the Tour di Italia crit. I have also followed through on my goal to get out on group rides more and ridden with the D'Ornellas Club a few times, and I have done the Toronto Donut Ride several times the year - more than last year. While everyone was racing the Provincial Road Race, I was in Buffalo for the Niagara Square Crit - a seven corner technical crit that was the most fun crit this year. It has been a busy two months. I have successfully stayed away from road races and only done two this year. I've done this stuff mostly on my own because I'm working towards a goal of racing at the Masters Track World's and on the downtown circuit in the Twilight Crit in Athen, GA for Speedweek. These are my "A" races - the rest is just training.

I think one of the best things I did this year was move up from CAT4 races in the US to CAT3 (I raced CAT1/2/3 in Buffalo) and move up the second race at Midweek. I raced the CAT 3/4 race at the Niagara Square Crit in Buffalo and placed 12th (along with getting my name photo in the Buffalo News). They say one of the best way to train is to train with guys faster than you are and I believe it has worked. I've gone from hanging in, sometimes on the back, at the second race at midweek to attacking on and getting a gab with other riders. I just moved up from the AA group at Bloomer Park to the A group and managed to finish well. I'm looking forward to trying racing against some of the best at the Forest City Velodrome in October in the A group. If nothing else, racing against some of the best races has helped build my confidence.



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